Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hicks' Asking Price Has Deterred Two "Perfect" Offers For Liverpool

The refusal of Liverpool's co-owner Tom Hicks to lower his asking price is a large obstacle to the sale of the club, according to a Barclays Capital insider.

The Daily Mirror interviewed the Barclays Capital insider, involved in selling the Anfield club. He revealed that Hicks is refusing to budge on his £800-million valuation of Liverpool, which is proving to be a significant stumbling block to attract potential buyers. It has already reportedly scared off two "perfect fit" offers, one from the Middle East and one from an American businessman.

The Daily Mirror quotes its inside source, saying, "We have found more than one really good fit investors, who have the wealth not to worry about a few hundred million quid.

"But they will not be held to ransom, because they know the asking price is unreasonable, and they simply don't want to be taken for a ride, no matter how rich they are."

Hicks' co-owner at Liverpool, George Gillett, is reportedly willing to lower the asking price, but Hicks is standing firm.

The Daily Mirror reports that the stalemate in the club's sale could even prompt the Royal Bank of Scotland to issue an ultimatum on the £237-million loan that it has extended for Hicks and Gillett. If there is no sign of a sale soon, RBS could demand the money or that Liverpool is sold within the coming months.

Fiorentina Eye Liverpool Left-Back Emiliano Insua

Fiorentina are interested in the captures of Liverpool left-back Emiliano Insua, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Florence-based side is keen to invest big in the market following a frustrating season in which they finished halfway down the Serie A table.

After signing Gaetano D'Agostino from Udinese in a co-ownership deal last week, the Viola are now looking to solve their defensive woes, having already identified their targets.

Insua, 21, has been at Anfield since 2007, and his playing chances have often come knocking due to Fabio Aurelio's fitness problems.

With the Brazilian defender set to the leave Liverpool, the Reds are understood to be looking for a new left-sided defender, which would drop Insua down the pecking order at the club.

Mark Lawrenson: Dalglish Could Be Key For Concerned Anfield Stars

As soon as the season finished and talk began about Rafael Benitez’s exit, I suggested Kenny Dalglish would be the best man to step in and fill in the void.

I still believe that to be the case. Although Kenny has been given the job of helping the board find a new manager, I don’t believe he needs to rush into it.

In fact, with Sammy Lee still at the club, I think that’s a perfect duo to help the club through a period of instability.

And it could be the key to persuading some of the club’s star names to stay at Anfield.

He is the most revered of Liverpool’s former players and has the influence to pull everyone at the club together.

He has a special bond with the fans – now it’s time to get that with the players.

I think Kenny showing such a willingness to work hard and try to get the club back on track could prove quite inspirational to the likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano.

With no sign to the end of the off-field turmoil, convincing that duo their futures lie at Anfield will take some doing.

But with Kenny at the helm it sends out exactly the right message. One of ‘we’re all in this together and we can come through it instead of abandoning ship’.

And, whoever ends up following Benitez through the exit door from the backroom staff, as long as Sammy is in that camp, then at least some of the old Anfield values are very much secure.

There might be an argument that Kenny only doing the job on a temporary basis wouldn’t persuade a player that there is any longevity in the arrangement.

But you don’t get ay guarantee of that in the game anyway any more. I don’t think a permanent appointment would influence a player’s mindset ay more than a temporary one.

So Liverpool have to look at the best way of ensuring that there isn’t a mass exodus. The club is at a major crossroads and nobody is sure of the best way to turn.

So they have to make sure that they pick the right man to steer them through it in the right direction – and there’s none better than Kenny.

Whether he wants that responsibility is another matter but I know his feelings for the club would make it very hard for him to resist helping them in their hour of need.

Liverpool is still a major attraction for players and having the man many believe to be their greatest player and ambassador at the helm, however long it lasts, could buy the club some valuable time and prevent the on-field set-up going the same way as everything else.

It will be difficult with a lack of investment – but if Kenny can’t do it nobody can.

Inter President Massimo Moratti Expects Rafael Benitez To Be Named New Manager On Wednesday

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti expects ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez to take the Champions League holders' reins on Wednesday.

Benitez, 50, announced his departure from Anfield by mutual consent last week and had been linked with a switch to the Champions League holders since.

He is reported to have agreed a three year, £5 million per-annum contract and will ink the deal on Wednesday.

"Probably on Wednesday the contract will become official," Moratti told La Gazetta Dello Sport.

"Certain figures that have appeared in the press will be redimensioned however. It was a normal deal, and rapid enough."

Rafael Benitez Ready To Raid Liverpool FC’s Backroom Staff

Rafael Benitez will raid Liverpool’s backroom staff after taking over as Inter manager.

Benitez is expected to be installed as new coach at the San Siro in the coming days having held talks over a three-year deal with Inter president Massimo Moratti.

The Spaniard has been targeted by the Italians after leaving Liverpool last Thursday following almost six years in charge at the club.

And Benitez is ready to return to Anfield to take some of his trusted lieutenants with him to Serie A.

Reports in Italy indicate Benitez will take Liverpool assistant manager Mauricio Pellegrino, goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero and fitness coach Paco de Miguel with him to the San Siro.

Italian Amedeo Carboni – who played under Benitez as a midfielder at Valencia – is also likely to be added to his backroom staff.

The imminent departure of key coaching personnel further underlines the need for Liverpool to intensify their efforts in finding a replacement for Benitez.

Managing director Christian Purslow, with the help of club ambassador Kenny Dalglish, is heading the search, although Dalglish himself has emerged as an early front-runner along with Fulham manager Roy Hodgson.

Whoever comes in will make the futures of Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard a priority, with all three linked heavily with a move away from Anfield.

Mascherano has hinted he wants to follow Benitez to Inter, while Gerrard is a target for new Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.

Torres has attracted interest from Manchester City and Chelsea, with Barcelona thought to be preparing a big-money bid to take the 26-year-old back to Spain and reunite him with international strike partner David Villa.

But Torres yesterday hinted he won’t return to La Liga when declaring England has the better league.

“As a competition, the Premier League is the best,” said the forward. “When you are talking about organization, respect and having all the stadiums full every weekend, it is really nice to see that.

“In Spain they have some of the better players in the world but, as a competition, it is not as big as the Premier League.

“I’ve played in Spain and can tell you honestly, the Premier League is much better.”

Torres is preparing with his country ahead of their World Cup opener against Switzerland on Wednesday week.

And the forward is backing his Anfield team-mate Gerrard to be the outstanding player in South Africa.

“I can see Stevie being the player of the World Cup, not just for England but at the tournament,” said Torres. “He will be more disappointed than anyone at Liverpool’s season and he will want to end the campaign on a high.

“He is the most complete central midfield player in the world and on his day he is still the best player in the world. He is a player any manager would be lucky to build a team around.”

Birmingham Rekindle Interest In Ryan Babel

Birmingham City have entered the race to sign in-demand Hamilton midfielder James McArthur and are to revive their interest in Liverpool's Ryan Babel.

McArthur is also a target for Wigan Athletic, Leeds United, Cardiff City and Rangers.

Wigan had been the favourites to sign the 22-year-old having signed his former Hamilton teammate James McCarthy last summer.

But his agent Willie McKay said: 'There are a few clubs who have made their interest known to Hamilton, and we're waiting to see what happens next.'

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is also ready to rekindle an £8m move for Liverpool's Ryan Babel and will make a check on his other striker target South African Katlego Mphela of Mamelodi Sundowns at the World Cup.

The 25-year-old is raw but was top scorer in the country last season with 17 goals. Palermo striker Fabrizio Miccoli, however, is McLeish's main target.

Birmingham have already had an initial approach for Miccoli rejected and they hope to tempt Palermo into selling the 30-year-old by offering £4m.

Babel would prefer to take stock of Liverpool's managerial change before opting to leave Anfield although a good offer could be hard for cash-strapped Liverpool to resist.

Lippi Rules Himself Out Of Liverpool Job

Italy coach Marcello Lippi is the latest candidate to rule himself out of the running to succeed Rafa Benitez at Liverpool.

Benitez's Anfield exit was confirmed last week, with the two sides parting ways by mutual consent. The Spaniard enjoyed almost six years at the helm, winning the Champions League and the FA Cup, but last season proved to be disastrous for Liverpool with Benitez paying the price.

Fulham's Roy Hodgson appears to be the favourite to become the next Liverpool manager, but inevitably a variety of names have been linked with the job.

On Sunday, Turkey coach Guus Hiddink and Galatasaray boss Frank Rijkaard ruled themselves out of the running to take over at Anfield. Now 62-year-old Lippi has rejected any prospect of coaching the Reds.

Although Lippi will step down as Italy coach immediately after the World Cup, The Sun reports that he has "no desire" to become Liverpool manager and has no interest in managing in England.

Meanwhile Croatia manager Slavan Bilic has hinted that he is interested in the job and Sven Goran Eriksson has also thrown his hat into the ring.

Burglar Jailed After Gerrard Kidnap Threat

A burglar who threatened to kidnap Steven Gerrard's children has been jailed for seven years and four months.

Martin Wilson, 22, was one of a gang of masked thieves who forced their way into the England and Liverpool captain's mansion.

The men confronted the player’s wife, Alex Curran, demanding she hand over jewellery and the contents of a safe or else they would "take her kids", Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Wilson, of Hollowcroft, Stockbridge village, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to the burglary last month.

Sentencing him, Judge Robert Warnock said: "You are both venal and extremely violent. You have no regard for the dignity and security that is the right of every householder."

The judge said Gerrard and his wife's victim impact statements, which were not read out in court, described their continuing "shock and fright" at their ordeal.

The robbery took place on December 11 2007 as Gerrard, 30, led Liverpool to victory in a Champions League game against Marseille.

Ms. Curran, 27, was at home in Formby, Merseyside, with their two children, Lilly-Ella and Lexie, now aged six and four, and their nanny, Lyndsey Johnston.

Graham Pickavance, prosecuting, said the two women and the children were in their bedrooms when, at about 9.30pm, a loud smash was heard from downstairs.

Seeing a group of men walking out of her living room, Ms. Curran shouted at them to leave, the barrister said, but the thieves raced up the stairs and grabbed the women.

One of them put his face right up to Ms Curran's and said "Where's the f****** safe?" and "Where's the f****** jewellery?", the court heard.

When Ms. Curran told the men there was no safe and jewellery was not kept at the house, one man ordered another to "Get the blade out of the car", while someone else told her: "If you don't tell us where the safe is, we'll take the kids."

The men shortly began to ransack the house, allowing Miss Johnston to pick up a telephone and call the police, after which the gang fled the scene.

Wilson is already serving six years and eight months in jail after admitting conspiracy to burgle at the same court last June.

His previous conviction relates to a string of robberies in the North West which involved raids on the homes of up to 16 wealthy families.

Detectives investigating the Gerrard raid caught Wilson because a mobile phone he used during one of the earlier robberies was also used close to the Gerrard mansion on the night in question, technical evidence showed.

His latest sentence will run concurrently and is expected to add another two years to his total time in prison, he was told.

Police are still hunting the other men who were involved in the raid.

Gerrard is currently in South Africa for the World Cup and his wife did not attend court.

Reds Fans Group Aim To Launch Fan-Ownership Scheme For Liverpool FC

The board of Liverpool fans’ group ShareLiverpool FC has announced plans to launch a share issue which would enable supporters to purchase a stake in the club, further turning up the heat on unpopular Reds owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

The move comes hot on the heels of news that the ‘Spirit of Shankly’ supporters’ union intends to launch a fan-ownership scheme of their own this summer, after talks of a merger between the two groups proved fruitless.

ShareLiverpool founder Rogan Taylor revealed that the group now possesses the funds to underwrite the costs of organizing and delivering a full share issue.

This would enable Liverpool supporters to collectively seek to purchase equity in the club, and would comply fully with the stringent rules outlined by the UK Financial Services Authority.

Taylor said: “ShareLiverpoolFC board will now look to specify a date for a share issue later this summer. This is a serious and rigorously professional undertaking and we believe our core aspiration is both desirable and deliverable.

"This is our time. It presents the best – and perhaps the only chance - of fans gaining control or at the very least a significant equity stake in the Club they love and support.”

The news represents a major step forward for ShareLiverpool, whose ultimate aim is to make Liverpool the first major UK club to be owned by its supporters.

Board member Barrie Baxter said: “This is our opportunity as fans to make sure what has happened to Liverpool FC during these last few years will never be allowed to happen again. It will need a huge number of LFC fans to participate in this incredible journey.”

Devised in 2008, the group aims to secure a minimum investment of £500 from thousands of Reds supporters, in order to buy a share in the company which will seek to own equity in Liverpool FC. At present, more than 35,000 fans have registered for the scheme, though with Gillett and Hicks said to value the club at as much as £600million, there is clearly a long way to go, as Taylor concedes.

Former Reds striker and ShareLiverpool board member, John Aldridge though, is buoyed by the announcement: “I’m made up that ShareLiverpoolFC is now able to push on and make the share offer. We’ll need a tremendous response from the fans but I think millions of them are desperately worried about the current situation both on and off the field.

“At last, they’ve got a chance to actually to do something about it. Our fans have brought us ‘back from the dead’ in matches many times before: think only of the ‘miracle’ of Istanbul. They can do it again – this time at the heart of the Club itself.”

Meanwhile Aldridge’s former team-mate John Barnes, himself a long-time supporter of the scheme, also welcomed the news. “It’s excellent to hear that the fans will get the opportunity to pool their money and buy a stake in the Club,” he said, “No one who has ever played for Liverpool can be in any doubt that these fans are the football club: the unique, core ‘brand’, as they call it these days, of LFC.

“If they are the club, why shouldn’t they own it too?”